Ice fishing graphic

The ice on area lakes and ponds was starting to look pretty good for ice fishing in December.

A hole drilled in the ice at Yellow Smoke Lake revealed about six inches of ice.

“The geese left and we were feeling really good - and fishing the farm ponds here locally,” said Kurt Miller, one of the organizers for Panfish Palooza, which had been scheduled for this coming weekend.

“Then we started getting warm weather – and then we got a couple inches of rain on that Friday and Saturday,” he said.

The water sitting on the ice made it start to deteriorate from the top.

“And then we had 50 degree weather on Christmas Day…” Miller said. “You can’t predict Mother Nature.”

The reaction to the warmer weather is that Panfish Palooza has been delayed a month.

“I’m not sending anybody out there (on unsafe ice), so we postponed it to our backup date of February 9,” he said.

The tournament runs from 7 a.m. to noon.

The event is sponsored by the local Pheasants Forever chapter.

A mandatory rules meeting and dinner will take place at Cronk’s Café on Saturday, February 8.

“We’ve got a lot of prizes that we’re going to use for raffles and drawings to generate money for scholarships,” Miller said. “We just wrote the scholarship checks for the three winners that we were going to present at the January rules meeting. We gave it to them while they were home for college.”

Another change for this year is that a meal will be available to purchase for the competitors while the tournament director gets the results ready.

“This year we’re going to have food for them and we’re going to have a computer spreadsheet that is going to quicken the check-writing process and get them on their way,” Miller said.

The window has always been narrow for having an ice fishing tournament, he said.

There is not enough ice in early December, but the holidays make the later part of the month unsuitable for organizing the event.

Pheasant hunting is still taking place in early January.

An early date in February could conflict with the Super Bowl – but the ice can start deteriorating later in February.

The 2019 event was canceled due to unsafe ice conditions that persisted beyond January.

“Last year we didn’t have a backup date,” Miller said. “We never thought we’d have been in that position. So this year we have the backup date.”

At present, anyone interested in ice fishing has to travel north to find suitable ice.

K.R. (Buck), Kevin Schultz and I went to Spirit Lake on Saturday just to get some ice fishing in,” he said. “Usually up there they are driving out on the ice with pickups, but there wasn’t one pickup on that lake.”

If the ice is not safe by the time of the backup date in February, this year’s event will be canceled.

Miller said he believes safe ice will form by the time of the tournament.

“We’re going to give it our best college try,” he said.

For more information, contact Miller at The Hoffman Agency in Denison at 712-263-5061 or his cell at 269-1834.

Questions may also be directed to Josh Schwarz, tournament director, at 712-291-0150.

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